Leaving, Me?

In light of a fairly serious family emergency, I have opted to utilize a piece of my book for this week’s blog post. Happy Reading.

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Even if I live to be a hundred years old, I think this image would be as clear in my mind as it was today. It was a day filled with brilliant sunshine and I was standing in a big open playground, the wooden school building on my life, the sea dam on my right, and the leaves of lush, green trees blowing in the wind to the South.

I looked towards the fence and I saw my daughter, three years and 10 months old carefully making her way across an old log so that she could take the short cut to my school. Her brown uniform was smudged and her white shirt was no longer white as she has been cleaning furniture in preparation for Mashramani — Republic Celebrations in Guyana.

Suddenly she recognized me among the students who were playing in the field and she started to run towards me with her arms outreached, her face beaming! As I bent down to scoop her in my arms, I looked up to see my friend, Rachel, looking at me. With a tear running down her right cheek, she said, 

“I really do not know how you are able to do this.” before turning to walk back to the school building.

I picked up my little girl and I held her tight, savoring the moment, burying my head in her neck and fighting all inclinations to break down and weep.  As I looked toward the fence again, I saw my son running across the field also.

He was 10 years old and he was my little “man.” 

I bent down to hug him. He was too grown for me to pick him up, which is what I would really have liked to do. He looked at the way I was holding his sister and he said,

Have you told her yet, Ma?”

I could only answer with a shake of my head, as I was choking up with tears. He then said,

“Do not worry Ma, we will figure something out.” 

This picture was stamped in my brain and on my mind on Friday, February 19th, 1988. It was good that I could not see into the future and realize the numerous heartaches and turmoil that would engulf my family and me.

How do I explain the circumstances that led to this day?

I had a decent life — a husband, two kids and a good job teaching just a stone’s throw from where I lived. Being the youngest of eight siblings, with both my parents and five of my brothers living in the same village I was very sheltered. I was surrounded by a great network of family and friends who always looked out for me.

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Living in Guyana, I did have a good life. But I wanted to make it better — not for myself but for my family. That is why I opted to move to the United States. It took guts, years of sacrifice and more courage than I even knew existed. That courage has made me who I am today.